In the Lectionary

June 11, Trinity Sunday

2 Corinthians 13:11–13; Genesis 1:1–2:4a; Matthew 28:16–20

The lectionary isn’t exactly subtle this week. It’s Trinity Sunday, so we read two of the most obvious articulations of triune identity in all of scripture—the Great Commission and the Pauline benediction. At churches that also dramatically proliferate the word trinity in song, prayer, and sermon, Trinity Sunday begins to feel like it is trying too hard. (Remember: simply repeating a word a lot doesn’t make it matter more or mean more.) Far better to arrive at Trinity Sunday having sung, prayed, and preached during Christmas-Epiphany and Easter-Pentecost in ways that articulate triune identity, inescapable and profound.

Moreover, these readings should remind us that we’ve al­ready been consistently naming the triune God in our worship. Most church traditions make disciples according to Matthew’s dominical rubric, baptizing “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And many churches make at least occasional use of Paul’s benediction, whether as a greeting at the beginning of worship or as a blessing at the end.

These practices raise the question of whether trinity is presupposition or conclusion, beginning or ending, greeting or benediction, gathering or sending. In this week’s readings, ending and sending are more overt. Paul ends his epistle with a trinitarian farewell; Jesus sends the nascent church on a trinitarian mission. Even the creation story is about God finishing the work and inviting humans to complete the task of filling the earth.